Connie Mavraganis, holding back tears, spoke of Mitesh Patel’s kindness and devotion to the community.
“He was top notch,” she said. “He was a wonderful and caring person. [Mitesh] had good manners and a very good sense of humor.”
Patel, the owner of the Bossey Drive-In Dairy located on 1611 North ‘E’ Street in San Bernardino, was killed during an armed robbery at the location on Friday night officials said.
Shortly before 8 p.m. San Bernardino police responded to reports of a shooting at the convenience store. Upon arriving officers saw Patel suffering from gunshot wounds, police department spokeswoman Eileen Hards told the Press Enterprise Saturday morning. Patel died at the scene. Two men, Robert Almond Green, 25, and Desmond Keyontre Stevenson, 23, were arrested Sunday afternoon in Highland on suspicion of Patel’s murder, attempted robbery, robbery, and connection to a street gang, police chief Jarrod Burguan said at a press conference today.
Chief Burguan said several minutes after the robbery and murder, the suspects tried to rob Bliss Liquor, about a mile south of the dairy on 9th and G Streets.
On Saturday afternoon many residents, with flowers and candles in hand, constructed a small memorial to pay tribute to a man they say understood the plight of the San Bernardino community. Elaine Fernandez, who lives near the dairy, explained that Patel would often let residents purchase store items on credit.
According to a statement written by Amy Patel, Mitesh arrived in the U.S. in 2002 from Umreth–a small village in Gujurat, India. He worked at various convenient stores and fast food chains to pay his way through college and purchase the dairy store with his wife Bhavika in 2010.
“Those who were fortunate to be a part of his life will always remember him for his kind, happy go lucky attitude and easy going nature,” Amy expressed in the statement.
Patel, 36, leaves behind a pregnant wife and a daughter of three-years-old.
“If you didn’t have money, he would let you take the items anyway,” Fernandez said. “I don’t understand why someone would want to rob him.”
Cookie Smith, 47, said she has been going to the store since her family first moved from Louisiana to San Bernardino in the early 1970s. She said she is frustrated at what she believes is the ‘achilles heel’ of the city.
“His life was more important than whatever money they got,” she said. “It’s a stupid crime. This man had a family. Many people are trying to change this community for the better. I think this type of stuff needs to stop.”